When I started on the PR track at JMU I imagined a job in PR would mean representing some firm or company. I thought PR would be me helping someone else stand out. I'd be in charge of putting someone else's best foot forward, so to speak. However, the more I studied, the more I applied to internships and programs like Bluestone Communications, I realized that a PR person's first job is representing themselves.
I've never been particularly good at talking about myself, if this blog post is any indication, but I've found that there's practically no way to move into the PR field if you can't sell yourself to your employers, your clients, and the media. You could be the most articulate, productive, experienced PR professional in the world, but if you can't show that to others, you're finished. I'm not just talking about making sure your resume is up to date. PR is a field that requires constant communication with others, meaning every time you send an email or draft a release you are creating something that represents you just as much as it represents your client. If your work isn't your best, it's your reputation, not just your client's that could be in jeopardy.
I was raised to believe that talking about yourself was vapid and self-absorbed, and in some ways it is, but it's also the way you show others your potential. Speaking up during a meeting doesn't mean you are showing off, you are showing what you can do. The same goes for emails and other correspondence. The wrong tone in an email to a media contact can change your relationship with them and if I know anything, it's that relationships and contacts are everything in our field.
All in all I've started to realize the value there is in knowing yourself and your worth and I think the first step any PR professional can take is finding that for themselves.